How to Eat a Crawfish (Louisiana, Night One)
I had no idea what that meant.
On the flight to Denver two weeks ago, en route to Lafayette from Portland, Joe and I met up with Ashley, a friend who was also flying south for the event. It was around 9 a.m. on Friday. The rehearsal dinner was that evening, so naturally the topic of crawfish came up. “They’re related to lobster, but smaller,” Joe said.
“Like a cousin of lobster?” I asked.
Ashley chimed in with some other thoughts on crustaceans that I can’t recall and we left it at that.
Fast forward to 6 p.m. We’re at Maison Madeleine in Breaux Bridge, a town about 20 minutes outside Lafayette. Apparently in 1959 the Louisiana government designated Breaux Bridge the Crawfish Capital of the World. Every year it hosts a three-day festival dedicated to crawfish. (The festival was featured as the “#1 Food Party” in a 2007 article in Maxim.) Breaux Bridge takes its crawfish seriously. As do Dianna’s relatives. After hugging her and Evan hello and greeting a few others, I noticed some guests already had their trays full. Not plates, trays.
Huge cardboard ones, overflowing with what looked like red scorpions.
In researching this post I discovered crawfish are also referred to as “mud bugs.” Joe, who sampled live octopus at the fish market while we were living in Korea, didn’t waste any time embracing the local fare.
There’s a reason why you pile your tray with at least 25 of these things: each one has very little meat. Joe ate the first ten or so using a method shared by our friend Kyle, another Oregonian guest: twist off the head, squeeze the top of the tail to loosen up the meat inside, rip off the legs, then bite out the meat. As Joe explains, “It was taking a long time.”
Then Ken, the father of the bride, walked over and grabbed a crawdad (as they’re also called) off of Joe’s tray. “I’ll show you how,” he said. Ken’s technique: rip off the head, pinch the base of the tail so a little meat gets pushed up, clamp your mouth down and pull the rest out. Much faster.
Crawfish tastes really good. But I was too distracted by everything else (i.e. chatting with people) to devote much effort to hacking my way into it. Then it was speech time, always my favourite. I was surprised when Dianna told me a few months ago that speeches would be at the rehearsal dinner rather than the wedding itself. Apparently that’s how it’s done down south, ya’ll. (That may or may not be the last time I throw a ya’ll into one of these Lousiana posts.)
Speeches were given by Dianna’s sisters and bridesmaids, her Dad and Evan’s dad, and even Dianna’s four-year-old niece Kennedy…
who was also the flower girl. How cute is she?
Evan also got a lot of love from the guys.
Though his best man Brito, who he went through army training with…
saved his speech for wedding night. (This photo was actually taken by Evan in New Orleans a few days later, but I had to introduce you to Brito.)
After dinner, all the guests went to a bar called The Feed & Seed. It’s in an awesome old barn…
that had a zydeco band playing.
Dianna and her dad had a little practice dance before the big day…
and the rehearsal dinner guests completely took over the bar, which started running out of beer.
Joe and I disappeared back to our Airbnb at midnight, determined to get a good sleep before the wedding day. Since our Uber driver had told us there was nothing open that late for takeout, we were thrilled to find half a bag of frozen french fries in the freezer. (As in really, really excited…I guess I should have dug into a little more crawfish!) Joe whipped up a dip with an avocado he’d brought from home and some cajun spices, and we ended the night happily devouring fries in bed.
Wedding day post coming next!